A reader has brought to my attention an important new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City: “Faking it Manipulated Photography before Photoshop,” which runs from October 11, 2012 to January 27, 2013. It looks well worth the trip or, absent that, well worth a careful study of the website.
I am happy to see Annie Brigman featured on the homepage. She was famous for heavily reworking her negatives to remove unwanted features and add others, not to mention liberating the view of women while staying within the context of very classical imagery.
It is, of course, the case that much of what Photoshop and other artistic software does, is an evolution of techniques that were previously achievable only with intense effort. These efforts typically included proper choice of both negative and print development and various methods of retoughing, such as dodging and burning. And, of course, there were even more laborious techniques, such as effective multiexposure techniques and photomontage. In a real sense modern artistic image processing methods have freed the photographer by making these techniques simpler and therefore much more accessible. Also you are freed of that little cash register in your head that was always calculating how much a picture was costing you in paper, chemicals, not to mention time.
The exhibit also approaches the important subject of motivation. Why is the image being manipulated? Is the motivation artistic? Is it for advertising purpose, to grab and evoke emotion? Or is it political, like the RMONEY subject of a previous post?
So I think that well worth seeing. Now I just need to figure out how and when to get down to NYC.